But portraits are not benign. They can provoke and repel as well as soothe. In the end, the face is the sitter’s, but the portrait is the photographer’s. And therein lie the conflicting ambitions of portrait photography and the moral dilemma of photojournalism. The sitter for a portrait wants to look good, but so does the photographer, and these can be mutually exclusive ends. A flattering likeness belongs to the commercial world, not the art world. As Susan Sontag observed, “much of modern art is devoted to lowering the threshold of what is terrible.” When the photographer’s reputation trumps the subject’s dignity, photography can be very cruel indeed.
— Jodi Cobb, "In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits"